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Professor Marshall Signs Historians’ Statement on Impeachment

Charles Wesley Emerson Professor Megan Marshall was one of the more than 2,000 historians to sign a Statement on the Impeachment of President Trump last month, a document that Speaker Nancy Pelosi read into the record on the day the House voted to impeach the president.

Marshall, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who currently is on leave from Emerson’s Writing, Literature and Publishing Department, also serves as vice president of the Society of American Historians, but signed the statement as an individual.  She said she was “proud to have had [her] voice heard as a signatory.”

She said she signed after being contacted by the drafters of the statement — Sean Wilentz, George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University, and The New School University Professor Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation (2019) – and was “proud to have had my voice heard.”

“We are academic historians and popular historians, biographers and journalists on the history beat,” Marshall said, “united in the wish to make clear that the charges against President Trump derive from standards set at the founding of our nation which President Trump has clearly violated, to condemn Trump’s ‘manifest utter and deliberate scorn for the rule of law,’ to support Congress in its move to impeach the President, and to call on the Senate to remove the President from office.”

Citing Trump’s withholding military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the country to investigate his political rivals, and his refusal to cooperate with investigators, among other behaviors, the statement argues that Trump’s “numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president.

“As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, impeachment was designed to deal with ‘the misconduct of public men’ which involves ‘the abuse or violation of some public trust,’” the document states. “Collectively, the President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the Framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, ‘the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption.’”

Marshall won the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and Memoir in 2014 for Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. She is also the author of The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (2005) and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast (2017).

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